The hidden sadness in our village

On the morning of our very first event for Actin I awoke looking forward to the day but naturally apprehensive, as I had never organized anything like this before and […]

On the morning of our very first event for Actin I awoke looking forward to the day but naturally apprehensive, as I had never organized anything like this before and had no idea whether people would turn up and how it would go. It felt so important to me.

I had not had a very good night’s sleep; the heat of August was at its worst, humid and almost unbearable. The air conditioning had been causing me headaches, so on this particular night I slept instead with the window open. Living in a rural village we often hear the sounds of the many dogs around, (too many). Farm dogs, guard dogs, stray dogs, well it goes on…

Very early, on this particular morning I heard what sounded like many dogs in distress; howling, crying, barking and it was continual and made me feel very anxious. I was used to the sounds of howling but this was different.

With a feeling of trepidation I decided to investigate, it was 7am. Worried there was something awful happening, I picked up my camera and went off towards where the sound was coming from. I had not walked more than a few minutes from my home, when I came to the nearest farm, just set back off the main road into the village. The large entrance gates were usually closed but this morning they were open and so I walked in.

I didn’t know what I was going to find but I was approached by a man who I had never seen before and he looked like the owner of the property. With an authoritative air, he came towards me and asked me in Spanish what I was doing. My Spanish is not good at the best of times but when I’m nervous it fails me completely. I told him as best I could that I wanted to know why the dogs had been barking and crying for so long. He didn’t look pleased but I continued to walk to the source of the sound.

What I saw shook me to the core. A large circular concrete wheel, I have never seen a contraption like this but it resembled something I have seen in pictures, like a mill, that used to be used years ago with cattle turning it. There were chains attached to it around the top; about 20 Galgos, (Spanish hunting dogs), were attached to it by the chains. They had no choice but to walk around in this small circle and they were terribly distressed, running, fighting and biting each other, it was a very disturbing sight. It looked horrific, I didn’t even think and took my camera straight out to take a photograph. The man knocked the camera from my hand and shouted at me to get out. I was close to tears and trying to think quickly what I could do. I tried telling him how I loved Galgos and just wanted a photo but he looked threatening, glaring at me and I could only leave, shaking and frightened for the dogs and for myself. I live a stone’s throw from him and he was not nice man.

I only wish I had been able to photograph this but now the area is hidden by farm machinery and haystacks.

Galgos in South Africa similar to what I saw in my village, Spain

Galgos in South Africa similar to what I saw in my village, Spain

I found this photograph shown of Greyhounds in South Africa being trained to race. The image in comparison to what I saw is tame, nonetheless, not right. I have used this to help describe the similar scene that I witnessed.

What I saw haunts me.

I had to put this out of my mind in order to start the day’s events and did my best to put it away to the back of my mind, until I could deal with it. Maria Marin was due to arrive in the morning early, to help start arrangements for our day. Maria is a vet and also lives in the village. When we met under circumstances of helping a stray dog in the village, we discovered we had the same passion and need to help make changes; hence we formed the Actin Association together.

A pair of Pit bulls chained in my village, Spain

A pair of Pit bulls chained in my village, Spain

The usual business like and practical Maria was at my gate in floods of tears. I could not believe it when she told me that she had also made a cruel discovery. What a day for us to both find out that in our own village there was not only a man ill-treating and hiding his hunting dogs, but we also had a man breeding Pit bulls for fighting. We knew this to be true but now we have to keep this evidence until we meet with our animal welfare lawyers.

Since that day the Pit bulls have attacked and killed a cat, witnessed by residents of the village in the village square by the children’s playground and our little church, with the owner of the Pit bulls, standing by.

The Pit bull Mama

The Pit bull Mama

We know the breeding pair have had pups but the pups have likely been sold on. The same man keeping the Pit bulls keeps other poor dogs chained and starved with no water, or food and unable to move from their short chain. There were more dogs in this condition but they gradually have disappeared! We fear the worst.

We know that it is likely that these things happen in many villages in rural Spain and we plan to make a stand here, in our own village to make the first changes.

Please support us; we have to live with this cruelty every day, until we can be strong enough to make the changes.

President of Actin Association


You can read an update to this story in "Denuncias and laws – an update on ‘The Hidden Sadness in our Village’"